I don’t have cable or broadcast television. I watch almost exclusively via the internet (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video).1Though Redbox also gets occasional visits from me. I pay my $8/mo. to Netflix and am fairly happy – though not as happy as when DVDs were still included in the price.
So, I love Netflix – but I also want to note just how horrible their website is. I don’t think this is a developer/designer problem – their developers/designers have done some pretty neat stuff (for example the open source projects Chaos Monkey and Genie). It seems to me this is a intentional choice by Netflix’s higher ups – though I don’t understand why.
If you’ve been with Netflix for any span of time you’ve experienced the many different variations of the site that have come over time. These iterations rarely add significant new features, almost always drop useful old features – and generally are a wash as far as their advantage over previous iterations. What in the world is going on here?
Let me make a “shooting-in-the-dark” guess. Netflix is attempting to increase the perception that it has an almost unlimited selection by making actual analysis of the collection by consumers difficult. I really don’t think this is a wise business move – but it is the only reason I can think of that a company like Netflix with talented employees is continuing to provide a sub-par experience to their customers.
“Come on Dave, the site isn’t bad. What are you talking about?” I’m so glad you asked.
Netflix refuses to hide watched titles – so they are always cluttering up the screen. Want to watch an Action or Adventure movie? Good luck wading through all the films you have seen to tease out one you haven’t seen.
Netflix seems to hide some watched titles (the logic seems arbitrary) but if you have rated a title without watching it on Netflix, then they will show it forever and ever. Come on Netflix, did you think this was an exclusive relationship? Of course we are doing business with Amazon, Hulu, and company…some of us might even venture out once in a while to a movie theater!
One cannot add movies to one’s queue that are not currently available on instant watch. Why not? I’d like to know when films I’m interested in seeing are added and in being able to create a “watchlist” of films I’d like to see (rather than forgetting all about them until I stumble upon them again at some future date).
The lack of fine-tuned sorting and searching tools. I can see New Releases – that is great – but could I see new releases sorted by year and then by average rating?
It seems that Netflix is also using some arcane or arbitrary method for what titles it displays under “New Releases” and “Recently Added.” Films which show up when you drill down to a specific genre as new releases don’t necessarily show up in either “New Releases” or “Recently Added” at the top (all genres) level.
Granted, none of these are huge issues – and yes, I am being hyperbolic when I describe Netflix’s website as “abominable” but I am genuinely confused how such a large company could continue over such a long period of time to propagate an inferior website.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised…Amazon’s Instant Video site is horrendous as well. Only Hulu’s site offers a modicum of power – and even it lacks flexibility in certain areas (e.g., why can’t I search my viewing history?!).
Why I Care: EA also has taken a lot of flack for overworking its developers – this is a huge issue within the IT industry specifically, but also more generally in the United States where workaholism is expected and applauded in many situations. Personally, I believe that most organizations have three constituencies: the customer, the employee, and the shareholder (or, for non-profit educational institutions – the alumni). Focus in on the employee and you’ll probably see a marked uptick in the other two arenas.
Just in case we forgot that physically breaking into a location is still a threat, hackers don’t have a corner on the market. Interested to see if they’ll catch these guys – a kind of crazy move, imho.
If you are a geek, this is worth knowing about – if not, you probably have much bigger security issues – e.g., your router probably has a password like “password” or “admin” on it and you may not know how to access it…Hmmm, we need to improve our computer literacy curriculums, I think.
Personally, I’m a fan of Dell Multifunction Printers, they can scan, copy, fax, and print. Once you’ve digitized your documents, a Doxie isn’t going to be of much ongoing use (assuming you aren’t always getting paper bills).
If you aren’t familiar with Aereo, it might be time to familiarize yourself. Personally, I’m not interested in the service – I’d rather see Amazon VOD, Netflix, and Hulu continue expanding their on-demand portfolios. That said, I am interested in Aereo’s success as it may push traditional broadcasters to more quickly and fully embrace solutions like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu – which (I think) monetize much more easily than Aereo – with its DVR that is ready to cut out commercials.